San Antonio, TX- A federal court on Thursday struck down a 2011 redistricting plan for the Texas State House on the grounds that it is racially discriminatory and unlawfully dilutes the voting strength of Latinos.
The three-judge panel ruled that the plan, known as H283, violates the federal Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) represented the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force in the case. Thursday’s decision follows a ruling handed down by the same panel in March that the Texas Legislature intentionally discriminated against Latino voters based on race when it remapped congressional boundaries in 2011.
“Yet another federal court finding that the state of Texas intentionally sought to restrict the voting rights of Latinos demonstrates that Congress should act to revitalize the federal Voting Rights Act,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “An effective pre-clearance system would have saved the state’s taxpayers much time and money in reviewing the 2011 redistricting plan.”
The court found intentional discrimination in the Texas House plan as a whole, and specifically in Bexar, Nueces, El Paso, Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Bell counties. The majority cited discussions among map drawers that were hostile to creating new minority districts, despite the massive minority population growth. “Mapdrawers,” the ruling reads, “were motivated in part by an intent to dilute minority voting strength.”
The court further found that the member-driven map-drawing process was done in secret and was not conducive to compliance with the Voting Rights Act. After the 2011 plan was released, the process was “extremely rushed” — the plan was voted out of the legislature six days after its release.
“Today’s decision is another nail in the coffin of Texas’s efforts to suppress Latino voting strength,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF vice president of litigation and lead counsel for Latino organizations in the case. “The court’s ruling will force Texas to draw fairer districts for minority voters.”
The ruling marks another victory for the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, a statewide coalition of Latino organizations that challenged the redistricting plans after concluding that the 2011 redistricting hurt Latino voters.
Read the decision HERE.